Saturday, August 11, 2007
Ramon Magsaysay Award
Seven people from China, India, South Korea, Nepal and the Philippines will receive this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award.The awardees include an environmentalist, an AIDS activist, a blind lawyer - all from China - as well as a journalist who writes about India's rural poor, a South Korean pastor, a Nepalese educator and a former senator from the Philippines.The award, to be given out in Manila on Aug. 31, is named for Ramon Magsaysay, the late Philippine president. Some 256 Asians have received it in various categories since it was established in 1957.The Philippines's Jovito Salonga, a former senator, will receive the prize for government service. A staunch opponent of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Salonga defended victims of the regime and led efforts to recover its stolen wealth.The Reverend Kim Sun Tae, from South Korea, will be honored for public service. Orphaned by the Korean War and blinded when he was young, Kim struggled to become a Christian pastor and helped found the Siloam Eye Hospital in Seoul that provides eye services to poor Koreans. More than 20,000 people have received free eye surgery.Mahabir Pun, awardee for community leadership, used wireless technology for the benefit of poor villages in Nepal. After 20 years in the United States, Pun returned to Nepal to help establish schools and, later, with donations of computers and wireless-communications gadgets from all over the world, helped hook these schools and villages to the Internet.Tang Xiyang is recognized with the prize for peace and international understanding. He was known for his "Green Camps," which have helped publicize the degradation of China's environment. The camps, in which environmentalists and students are dispatched to areas in China where the environment is at risk, have helped influence government policy, according to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.Palagummi Sainath, a journalist from India, will receive the prize for journalism, literature and creative communication arts. The foundation said Sainath had written passionately about India's poor and the injustices they suffer. Today, "his journalism workshops occur directly in the villages, where he teaches young protégés to identify and write good stories and to be agents of change," the foundation said.The awardees for emergent leadership are China's Chen Guangcheng and Chung To. Chen, who is blind, led the filing of a class-action lawsuit in 2004 against officials in rural Shandong Province for, among other complaints, coercing women into having late-term abortions or sterilization. Chen publicized his case, eliciting a backlash from officials that later put him in jail, where he is serving a four-year sentence for "inciting a mob" of supporters.